The Real Reason People Don’t Shop in Person (and how to Fix it!)

A list of major retail bankruptcies from 2015 to today.
Courtesy: CB Insights Research Brief

Brick and mortar store closures are increasing. As small business owners, it’s tough to figure out how to emotionally respond to the fact that people shop in person a lot less these days. If you’re exclusively online, you breathe a sigh of relief. Now’s the time for you to tap into that market. But what if you’re a small, family owned business? What if you have an in person shop in your home or a small establishment in your town? For you, these closures are scarier. If the big box stores with millions in advertising can’t make it – how can you?

I want to approach these closures from a different perspective. The reason the box stores are closing is exactly the reason why your in person sales WILL work! First we need to understand why people aren’t shopping in person as much anymore.

According to Paul Miller, “Once retailers get their head around the fact that stores are not the quick-and-easy place to get stuff (that’s what the internet is for!) but Customer Experience Centers (where consumers are delighted), they can be (back) on the road to commercial success. Don’t forget: people like shopping in stores (heck, 76% of consumers prefer in-store to online for their holiday shopping needs)!”

There’s Power in Perspective

Mathias4MakeupMost brick and mortar small business owners assume that the appeal of an in person boutique is that you can grab your stuff and go. But you can do that from anywhere these days – and with 2 day shipping being the norm, even instant gratification needs are being met by one woman shows.

The real question is – what can your customers get in person at your store, that they can’t possibly get online. Instead of focusing your in person events on things like discounts and convenience, market your in person events as experiences your customers can’t get online. Depending on what you sell you might offer:

  • Clothing Company: This week only, individual style consultations – find the best way to dress YOUR body, appointment needed. (Facebook will now let you book online)
  • Jewelry Crafting: Come see how we make all the jewelry we sell, exclusive live demo of crafting process
  • General Crafting: Special crafting session for kids, we’ll teach you how to make your own earrings to take home
  • Makeup: FREE make-up tutorials this Sunday, bring your fresh face and learn a 5-minute makeup technique
  • Book Seller: Teach your kids the joy of reading
  • Essential Oils: Meditation or Yoga class using oils for relaxation

No matter what product you sell, there’s an experience that you can give your audience which is time limited, specific, and special. It’s not something you do every day. So to participate in what you’re offering, they must be present at that time. Don’t entice your audience to your parties, home retail space, or main street store with free products, sales, or experiences you’re going to give them online anyway – focus on the kinds of experiences you have to be in person for. Offer them an opportunity to learn, create, participate in a hands on experience, this creates a natural, rather than a forced sense of urgency that we often feel with sales.

Use your products to create experiences – and they’ll keep coming

Success Tips

  • Promote it at least 2 weeks in advance. Start with 1 week of light promotion and then ramp up in week 2.
  • Plan for it! Don’t decide to do this 2 days beforehand so that you can hit your end of month goals.
  • Identify local partners to help host events and build community (yoga studios + essential oils, library + books, etc)

Did this get your creative juices flowing? What kind of experience can you offer your audience? Join the conversation on our Facebook Page!

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